The Importance of Tabletop

Today, I am going to write a rousing article today about the importance of tabletop gaming. I could simply tell you that nothing beats a night of gaming with your friends and family. That’s more than enough of an argument. No elaboration needed. But what kind of fun would that be? Let me take you on a trip down memory lane…

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When I was young, I was admittedly a video game junkie. I spent my days holed up in my room with my controller in hand and snacks nearby. Loud digital noises assailed my ears, bright pixels assaulted my eyes. And life was good. It was a solitary one though.

Jump ahead to high school, where I picked up Magic the Gathering. I found that there was a certain magic (forgive the pun) that came from spending my time in the school foyer playing with other social outcasts. (Magic was very much a niche thing back then.) It  was the gateway to a lifetime of tabletop experiences.

In college a certain little anime known as Dragonball Z was a big deal. This was the Toonami era. Students of all kinds stuffed themselves into lounges to watch the next exciting installment, and we usually hung around to talk about it afterwards. So, you can imagine my excitement when I visited a local game store down the street from campus, and found that they had a Dragonball Z role-playing game! I had never run an RPG before, but I figured that it would be time to learn. We got a group together and had a blast. And that was it. Tabletop gaming was now a passion rather than a hobby.

I still take time to play, as often as I can. Every week, my friends and I get together, head out to fill our bellies with local Kent cuisine, (Have you ever had a slice of Ramella’s pizza?) and we settle in for a night of gaming. We typically cycle through Dungeons and Dragons one week, and Scion the next, with a smattering of board games for good measure. It’s the thing I look forward to the most every week.

Why? Because there’s something just flat out magical about tabletop gaming, something you just can’t get from a video game or anything else. A group of people playing a board game aren’t just playing, they’re in a battle of wits. Resources are bought and sold, territories are conquered, and deals are made. It brings out our ruthless sides, as well as our benevolent sides. We eliminate our rivals, or we work together to defeat a malicious threat.

Togetherness is the point.  It’s all about being there, in the moment with your hearty band of adventurers. It’s about looking around the table and wondering which of your friends is going to go turncoat and knock you out of the game. It’s about an experience you just can’t get with a headset and an Xbox live account.

As long as there are people who want to play together, to have fun together, and maybe throw down some dice (together!), there will always be a place in the world for tabletop games.

The Spoils! A Trading Card Game Review

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Today, I’m going to talk about THE SPOILS!  They claim to be “Probably the best TCG ever created,” and they might not be too far off!

The Spoils is a TCG from Arcane Tinmen. It was created a few years ago, essentially disappeared, and came back fairly recently. As far as card games go, it borrows a lot of elements from other card games, but combined with its own unique play-style and hilarious sense of humor, has made it a game that easily stands on its own.

In the Spoils, players play as various factions (known as trades) that are fighting for influence over the world. There are five in all that you can build your decks around;

  • The Bankers are literally fat-cats. Most of them are Mau, affluent cat-people. The Banker play-style is very controlling, with lots of card draw to boot, and many ways to slow your opponent down. Their staple resource card is greed.
  • The Rogues favor speed, having lots of little guys that come out of nowhere and hit first in combat. They also are very fond of sending cards to an opponents graveyard, only to use those cards for their own means later. Their staple resource card is deception.
  • The Gearsmiths are a bunch of eccentric engineers and Elves that use Leetspeak. They can play all sorts of contraptions, such as cool items and huge golems. They can also swarm the board with tiny little robots called “Majigs.”
  • The Arcanists are eccentric wizards and weird tentacled horrors. Their brand of play has a lot of discard effects, and has ways to gimp the opponent’s tactics and play some of their own at the same time. And Tentacled horrors. Can’t forget those.
  • The Warlord faction is all about brute strength. Soldiers, Dragons, and all sorts of other fighters come out swinging, and don’t stop until the opponent is dead. They also have a lot of direct damage tactics.

In the spoils, you build 75 card decks, and each deck contains a faction card. These are unique to the faction you choose to play. They each have their own unique effects that can affect the flow of the game. Each player typically starts the game by drawing 8 cards. You also take two resource cards from your deck and put them into play. This is a unique mechanic that allows you to always have resources when your game starts. Resources play a lot like land cards in Magic the Gathering. You’ll use these to play your characters, items, and tactics. You play these by “attaching” them to your faction card to show you’ve used them.

At the start of each turn, you’ll unattach your resources, and choose to either draw a card, or play a resource. This is another unique mechanic, and makes you really think about your turns carefully. If you choose to play a resource, you’ll take a resource card and play it to the field. If you don’t have a resource card, you can take any card in your hand and play it face down as a generic resource! This also helps ensure you can play whatever you need.  (And if the card has a flip up cost, you can play it later as if it were in your hand!)

Spells you play have two costs. A threshold cost and a numeric cost.  The numeric cost shows what you have to pay to play the card, while the threshold just shows how many of a particular resource you need to have on the field. So if a card has a threshold of 3 Obsession, and a numeric cost of 2, that means you need to control 3 resources that produce obsession, but you only pay 2 resources to play it.

There are a few different card types to play as well!

  • Resources: These let you play all of your other cards!
  • Tactics: These are the “Spells” of the game. Tactics can typically be played whenever you like
  • Items: Items that sit on the board and provide different effects. Gear cards are Items, but you attach them to your characters to power them up.
  • Characters: Your minions, simply put. There’s a host of monsters, pirates, robots, cats, and all sorts of other characters to play!

Locations: These sit on the board and offer unique effects, but opponent’s creatures can totally attack them, so be careful. They can take damage up to their “Structure” number in the upper right of the card.

Attacking with characters is your main way of dealing damage in the game. You group your characters into attacking parties and go to town! You can have as many or as few characters in your parties as you want, and all parties attack individually, meaning that once your opponents block the party, you can send another party of attackers at them! Attacking characters are depleted, until your next turn, meaning they won’t be able to block incoming attacks on your opponent’s turn, so plan carefully! You can also play tactics during combat to boost characters, kill characters, prevent damage, and all sorts of other effects!

All damage dealt to a player is typically dealt to their faction. A faction loses Influence equal to the damage dealt, and once their influence drops to zero, the game’s over!

If the game play alone wasn’t a selling point, the game’s flavor and art are absolutely hilarious! Pop culture references abound, along with sly jokes, clever puns, and  awesome, sometimes weird, artwork. The world of Spoils is a bizarre and unique place, to say the least. But it might not be one for the kiddies. There are a fair amount of cards that poke at mental disorders, bodily functions, and even just show insane amounts of gratuitous violence. It’s not too overboard, but can be a bit much for younger players. I’d give it a PG-13 at worst though.

If I would have to say there’s a downside to the Spoils, I’d only say that deck-building can really be tough until you have a few cards in your collection, but that’s really nothing new if you’re familiar with any other TCG.

If you’re looking for a unique and fun to play game, give The Spoils a try! Chances are, you pretty much already know how to play it, so it’s easy to get into, and starter decks are pretty cheap too! Give it a try, and you won’t be disappointed! I certainly wasn’t!

Why aren’t you playing Kaijudo?

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No, seriously. Why aren’t you playing it? Is it the TV show? I know the show is atrocious, but the card game is fantastic!

You might remember a little card game called Duel Masters. This game came out ages ago, and was swiftly buried by Yugioh.

Jump ahead, and it’s back with a new name! And what does it play like? Well I guess the best way to describe it is “Magic-lite”

The goal of the game is to break your opponents five shields, and pummel him into oblivion! This is done by attacking those shields with creatures. Creatures are played by spending mana. Any card in your hand can be put down in your mana zone, which is a bit different than playing lands in Magic.

There are five “civilizations” in Kaijudo; Light, Fire, Darkness, Nature, and Water. Each is represented by a different color, and each has its own specialties.

The Magic:The Gathering similarities end there, however, and Kaijudo comes into its own as a unique game. 

When a creature attacks, it can attack either your opponent’s shield directly, or a tapped creature they control. You don’t get to block with a creatures, unless they have the “blocker” ability.

What this does is force you to think about the risks of committing your creatures to an attack. you can be aggressive and try to down your opponent’s shields quickly, but then those attackers are vulnerable to attack on your opponent’s next turn! This keeps things fast paced, and keeps you on the edge of your seat.

I could go on all day about all the mechanics, but that’s not what we’re here for! I for one, love playing Kaijudo. Yes, it’s simpler than the dominant CCGs out there, but it packs a nice little punch, and the rules are very easy to learn for new players. It combines elements of two of my favorite card games, Magic and a little bit of World of Warcraft, to create a fast-paced and satisfying whole. Do yourself a favor, and stop into GG for a free sample deck, and learn how to play! You might just be surprised!